A small increase in cardiorespiratory fitness can significantly reduce the likelihood of prostate cancer in men.
A recent study discovered that men’s risk of prostate cancer can be decreased by even modest increases in cardiorespiratory fitness. Researchers found that an annual improvement of 3% or more in cardio fitness correlates with a 35% lower risk of developing prostate cancer on average. However, the study did not establish a connection between enhanced cardio fitness and a reduced risk of mortality from prostate cancer.
Even marginal enhancements in cardiorespiratory fitness could substantially decrease the risk of prostate cancer, as demonstrated by a new investigation. Swedish scientists discovered that a yearly escalation in cardiorespiratory fitness of 3% or higher was associated with a 35% decreased risk of prostate cancer development, after adjusting for potential influential factors.
The study was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
Cardiorespiratory fitness refers to the heart and lungs’ capacity to supply oxygen to muscles and organs during physical activity. “The findings underscore the significance of cardiorespiratory fitness for prostate cancer risk, which has been challenging to ascertain with single-time-point studies,” the study authors noted. “Encouraging enhancements in cardiorespiratory fitness among adult males may mitigate the risk of prostate cancer,” they added.
These recent findings align with previous research indicating that regular physical activity is linked to a reduced risk of various cancers, including breast, colon, and kidney cancer. Nevertheless, the association with prostate cancer is less straightforward, as noted by the authors of the new study.
To delve deeper into this correlation, researchers analysed data from 57,652 men obtained from a Swedish occupational health profile assessment database spanning from 1982 to 2019. This dataset included details on men’s physical activity levels, lifestyle habits, perceived health status, as well as height and weight measurements used to calculate body mass index (BMI).
All participants underwent at least two cardiorespiratory fitness tests involving stationary cycle riding, measuring the amount of oxygen consumed during maximal exertion. Over an average follow-up period of 7 years, an increase in absolute cardiorespiratory fitness was linked to a 2% lower risk of prostate cancer development. This correlation persisted even after accounting for other potential factors influencing prostate cancer risk, such as age, education level, test date, BMI, and smoking status.
However, no association was observed between changes in cardiorespiratory fitness and the risk of dying from prostate cancer.
Researchers categorized men into three groups based on whether their cardiorespiratory fitness increased by 3% or more annually, decreased by 3% or more, or remained relatively stable. Men whose fitness improved by 3% or more per year were 35% less likely to develop prostate cancer when adjusting for all other factors.
How much exercise is necessary to achieve this level of cardiovascular improvement? Studies indicate that certain exercise programs can enhance cardiorespiratory fitness by up to 16% within a year or less.
Identifying risk factors
Only men with modest starting fitness levels showed statistically significant results when researchers grouped individuals based on their cardiorespiratory fitness during the initial cycle test. This suggests that there is a direct correlation between increased fitness and a 15% decreased risk of prostate cancer in this population.
It should be noted that the study results did not yield definitive evidence in favour of or against the benefits of greater cardiac fitness for persons with higher or lower baseline fitness levels.
It is necessary to conduct more research on the mechanisms behind the association between increased fitness and a lower risk of cancer.
Studies show that physical activity is linked to a lower risk of several malignancies, including kidney, colon, and breast cancer, however the link with prostate cancer is less clear-cut.
A review of data from more than 57,000 men showed that a reduction in prostate cancer risk was associated with increased cardiorespiratory fitness; however, no such correlation was found with the risk of prostate cancer death.
The study’s observational design makes it impossible to determine a cause-and-effect relationship, because genetic and non-genomic variables are important determinants of cardiorespiratory fitness and prostate cancer risk.